The core of everything we do at ADF is rooted in the Gospel, and we want our ministry to reflect the Gospel to the rest of the world. That’s why we’re committed to keeping the legal doors open for its flourishing.
Throughout this Vision for Freedom series, we’ve looked at how ADF has carried out its mission in the different areas of law and culture. We’ve seen where God has used this ministry to uphold the Gospel, bring justice, defend God-given rights and responsibilities, pursue Truth, and help build His kingdom.
But what does the word “Gospel” mean? Many view it as God’s Good News of personal salvation and a dodging of damnation for sinners. Some view it primarily as the means by which we go to heaven after we die. The Gospel certainly does encompass these things, but it’s also so much more.
The Gospel centers on God redeeming everything sin has marred, distorted, and broken. This redemption not only takes effect on an individual or personal level, but also stretches to a societal realm. In fact, the Gospel is cosmic, extending to everything in the universe that Christ upholds “by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3).
Through the Gospel, Christ’s redemptive work promises to make all things new (Revelation 21:5). His self-giving sacrifice on the cross and His triumph over sin and death through His resurrection from the dead, not only defeated death, our last enemy; it launched God’s project to remake the world in light of His victory and reign. And the good news is that we don’t have to wait until a distant, unknown date to participate in this project. Christ invites us to join Him now, through the Spirit, to expand His kingdom to the ends of the earth.
Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that He came to give us life in abundance. But this abundance isn’t exactly what the world would recognize as prosperity. Abundance in God’s economy is often counterintuitive and paradoxical: the first will be last, the weakest will be the strongest, the poorest will be the richest. This is certainly not the way of our world.
But Christ calls us to a better way, a way that actually conforms to reality, that embraces and champions the Gospel and has the power to truly transform individuals and society.
Jesus tells us that He is the way, and the truth, and the life (John 14:6). In Him is the fullness of life. In Him is the Truth, and abiding by and in that Truth leads to flourishing. The Gospel provides insight and direction into how we all ought to live, whether someone is a follower of Christ or not. The real question is whether someone decides to conform his or her life to abiding by that Truth.
God’s Truth is not about a system of arbitrary rules decreed by an overbearing, authoritarian deity bent on destroying our fun. His Truth is reality. And as an ultimate expression of that Truth, the Gospel empowers and strengthens us to live in a way that abides by the grain of that reality.
This speaks to why the content of our laws and the way in which we structure our society is so important. As much as possible and appropriate in a pluralistic society, we want these things to promote human flourishing consistent with “God’s grain,” His design for humanity, creation, and His created order. Our Generational Wins are a testament to this, and that’s one of the reasons why we’ve spent the past months highlighting them here.
In Acts 4, we see courage that’s contagious – a courage that helped propel the expansion of the early Church. Following Pentecost, the Apostles faced immediate opposition from the religious establishment for healing people and preaching the Good News of Christ’s resurrection and defeat of sin and death.
Yet, they did not shy away from either the message or mission that the Holy Spirit called them to.
Scripture makes it clear that these Apostles were persecuted and jailed for preaching and living out the Gospel. But not before the Truth resonated: over five thousand people received Christ after hearing what they had to say (Acts 4:4).
The Holy Spirit provided the courage necessary for the Apostles to proclaim the Truth. And it didn’t matter that these men were uneducated, poor fishermen. What mattered was that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). That changed everything for them and for the course of human history.
The courage to stand for Truth can take numerous forms. It can look like winsomely defending the reality of biology and that there are only males and females. It can look like defending the dignity, value, and rights of the poor, uneducated, unborn, or disabled. It can also take shape by standing for freedom.
At ADF, we're not interested in defending "freedom" the way some people understand the word today. True freedom isn’t the destruction of every conceivable constraint on human will and action. It’s also not unfettered self-definition. True freedom consists in corresponding with reality, which ultimately means abiding by God's Truth. When we deny the truth about who and what we are, we actually disempower ourselves.
So, what is God’s conception of true freedom? It comes from abiding in Christ:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love (John 15:4-9).
Fruitful abiding is also highlighted in Galatians 5. There, St. Paul talks about keeping in step with the Spirit as a way of experiencing the freedom of Christ:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
True freedom is liberation from sin. True freedom is self-denial. True freedom is abiding in Christ and walking in the Spirit. True freedom is living according to God’s design. This is Truth, and this is the life the Gospel offers. And ADF will never back down from defending the Truth or the right to share it with others freely.
When’s the last time you saw an ideologically diverse group of people come together over a common cause? If you’re racking your brain trying to think of...Continue reading